Falcons lose in semi-final round of GNAC

SPU basketball season comes to a close; Falcons lose to Alaska Anchorage 76-68

Samantha Ledbetter | The Falcon
Senior guard Rachel Shim steps away from defender in last home game against Simon Fraser.

In the culmination of their season, the Falcons defeated Northwest Nazarene University and made it all the way to the semi-final round of the conference tournament before losing to University of Alaska Anchorage.

On Thursday, the Falcons tipped off against Northwest Nazarene in the first round of the GNAC tournament. Winning, 71-60, SPU advanced to the semi-final round the next day.

Junior guard Jordan McPhee scored 15 points, while senior guard Rachel Shim and junior forward Erica Pagano each scored 12 points.

Marking their return to the court after injuries sidelined them earlier in the season were junior forward Courtney Hollander and sophomore Julia Haining. Hollander put five points and six rebounds on the board. Focusing on defense, the Falcons came out strong, knowing they had nothing to lose.

“I think anytime you go into a tournament, the goal is just to survive and advance,” Head Coach Julie Heisey said. “I think we did a good job of identifying who does what and being able to take some of their strengths away.”

On Friday, March 3, the Falcons lost to No. 1 seeded University of Alaska Anchorage in the semi-final round, 76-68.

“I think going out on a loss is always hard for any team,” Hollander said. “But, playing a team like Anchorage so close with so much fight helps going out on a loss a lot more.”

Tied at the half, 40-40, the Falcons came out and did not score for the first five minutes of the third quarter, leaving the score at 56-44 at the end of the quarter. Although they were cold in the first and third quarters, with the help of strong second and fourth quarters, the Falcons were 50 percent from the field.

Holding Anchorage to win by only eight, the Falcons are one of only three teams to do that all season.

“I thought we showed a lot of resiliency,” Heisey said. “We were able to be tough and play together.”

The Seawolves advanced to defeat No. 2 seed Western Washington University in the finals, giving them their third consecutive GNAC Championship win.

Both teams will compete in the NCAA Division II West Regional Championship beginning this Friday, March 10.

Despite reaching their goal of making it to the GNAC tournament, the Falcons plan to strive for more next season since their defeat on Friday marked the end of Falcon basketball for the year.

“It is really hard to not make it, and I think all of us want to get back to the conference tournament and then compete to get to the region tournament,” Heisey said in regard to their goal for next season.

Now that the season has come to a close, the athletes will miss the camaraderie that only happens during the season.

“Being able to hang out in the locker room before practices or games is such a fun experience that you only get with all of your teammates during the season,” Hollander said.

The Falcons hold their heads up, as they are proud of the season they’ve had.

“I loved the way we were able to bounce back,” Heisey said. “We came into the tournament and we played to win.”

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